Tri-Ace, the team behind Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile, and Infinite Undiscovery, has forgone its usual publishing partner Square Enix and has instead partnered with Sega to bring us Resonance of Fate. The Japanese role-playing game is set in an enthralling city full of vile hoodlums, mysterious heroes, and intricate machines. We got a first look at the game at Sega's Summer Sizzle event in Central London, and it left us wanting more.
In Resonance, you play as three mercenaries employed by high society. Zephyr is a talented young merc, Vashyron is an experienced gunslinger, and Reanbell is a diminutive girl. Anyone who plays Japanese RPGs will know not to judge a book by its cover, and from what we've seen, Reanbell can certainly hold her own on the field of battle. We don't know much about their stories so far or how they came to work together, but we're told that all will be revealed in the course of the game.
You encounter numerous battles along the way, from simple gangsters in the city's seedier parts to boss battles. The gameplay is in semi-real time, and enemies will move only when you do, which allows you to pause and think your strategy through without being explicitly turn based. It's possible to "shatter" an enemy's health bar into separate fragments to make your enemy easier to defeat, and this looks like an interesting concept. You can also activate a bullet time sequence and use this to perform more powerful attacks. Aiding you in combat is an impressive arsenal, including machine guns, pistols, Molotov cocktails, and grenades.
Resonance is set in a fictitious Earth city, with a setting that looks to be heavily influenced by the current fashion for steampunk fashions and modernised Victoriana. We don't know the exact time frame, but we saw cobblestone streets and plenty of industrial age contraptions, including huge clockwork gears. The storyline will sound familiar to science fiction fans: Unbeknownst to the general populace, a gigantic machine runs the world of Resonance and even decides when people should be born and die. The city appears to be a huge cylindrical structure suspended above the planet's surface, with many individual levels to explore. The only ones privy to the truth is the aristocracy, who live on the structure's lofty upper platforms, and it seems you're destined to come to blows with them at some point.
While the main story is linear, you can unlock side missions. Completing these will earn you experience points and uncover more of the game's plot. Visiting guild halls scattered throughout the city will give you details about both current and side missions, and you can talk to non-player characters to uncover more clues about the city.
There's an interesting visual design at work in Resonance. A grainy art style gives the world a gritty look that fits the edgy setting. Backgrounds are prerendered and rotate on an axis as you move around corners. The result makes the game look like an elaborately detailed 3D pop-up book, and we look forward to seeing more of it in the future.
Resonance of Fate will be heading to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in early 2010. You can discover more from Sega's Summer Sizzle event by reading our just-published previews of Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll and Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games.